Friday, October 2, 2009

9: Pretty but Shallow

I know, I know, I've been off the blog wagon for awhile now. But I have two really good reasons! I'm not going to sit here and promise that I will hop back on, but I will say that I do miss it, so maybe that's incentive enough to do a little more.

Well...with that said, let's get on with the review.

I finally got around to seeing 9. I'd heard from many people that the visuals outweigh the story, and I definitely agree. It was a visually beautiful film with grand apocalyptic landscapes and beautifully detailed rag doll figures. But there's just so long you can be in awe of a pretty movie before you start saying, "Um, so when's the story going to get really interesting?"

The story begins when 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood) first comes to life in a room whose only occupant is a dead man on the floor. When he ventures out into the world, he finds that all humans are gone and the world is in ruins. Only by sheer chance does he find others like himself hiding in a cathedral to protect themselves from The Beast. 9 doesn't believe hiding is the answer, and against the wishes of the self-proclaimed leader 1 (Christopher Plummer), he convinces 5 (John C. Reilly) that they must go out and fight The Beast in order to save others like them. Of course, they fight and a battle of good vs. evil leads to them learning the truth of their existence and their importance to the future of civilization.

My synopsis sounds far more rousing than the film ended up being. I definitely wasn't bored, but I did randomly find myself analyzing the movie instead of watching it, which is not a good sign ever. The story never dove deep enough for me to really get into it. There are two kinds of apocalyptic movies: the kind that Roland Emmerich makes and those that are more like 12 Monkeys or Children of Men. 9 definitely wasn't The Day After Tomorrow, but it also wasn't Children of Men. It was more an outline than a full script.

For nearly the first hour of the movie, I felt like the story was building up to something bigger and grander that was going to have the massive moral impact by the end. Yet, when the truth about the monster machine is revealed, I felt like I'd fallen into an explanation of Terminator. Then when we finally learn why 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 exist, I feel a little let down--not by the reveal, but by the payoff.

I wanted to care more about these little rag doll people. They get hurt, they die. They sacrifice, but I'm just not invested enough in them to really care too much. Director Shane Acker wrote and directed 9, the Oscar-nominated short film in 2005. The short caught the attention of Tim Burton and voila, a feature was made.

After watching the short, I can definitely see the appeal of making it into a feature. There's so much opportunity to tell more story and create fuller characters. Even though the feature 9 did tell more story, the character development falls flat.

My verdict? It's worth seeing on the big screen for the beautiful visuals, but don't get your hopes up for a really strong story.


DjToRcH373 said...

sounds good!

Nakia Jewel said...

Love your review of this movie! Why am I all late realizing our blogs are pretty darn similar?! I swear great minds think alike cause this is my first time checking out your blog! I hope you continue your reviews soon! Great work!